When I hear the term “millennium” in the context of theology, I immediately think of the doctrines of pre-and post-millennialism. By these two terms, we refer to the teaching that at the end of this age, Christ will establish an earthly kingdom that will last for 1000 years. This teaching is based on the reference to “1000 years” in Revelation 20. Premillennialism teaches that Christ will return before this 1000-year period of time in order to establish this earthly kingdom. Postmillennialism teaches that Christ will come after this 1000-year period. In contrast to these two views of the end times, the Protestant Reformed Churches, of which I am a member, teach amillennialism. This view rejects the idea of a literal 1000-year period of time during which Christ will reign over an earthly kingdom.
Like I said, this is what I typically think of when I hear the term millennium. Therefore, I often dismiss the notion of any sort of millennium. Or if I do think of the millennium, I view it as something associated with the end times, and thus as something that will happen in the future.
However, as we confess in the Apostle’s Creed, when Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, he sat down at God’s right hand. We understand “God’s right hand” as symbolic of the position of power and authority that Christ occupies in heaven. From this position Christ reigns as king. For, one who sits on a throne and rules with power I s a king. And since Revelation 20 associates the millennium with Christ’s rule as king, we understand the millennium as the period of time between Christ’s ascension and his second coming. That means the millennium is happening right now! We are currently living in the millennium described in Revelation 20.
Now, if the millennium is happening right now, clearly the 1000 years is not literal, but symbolic. For it has been well over 1000 years since Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. Instead, we understand this period of time to refer to the full development of God’s counsel before the end of this world. This symbolic interpretation is in harmony with the book of Revelation as a whole, much of which cannot be interpreted literally. For as the opening verse of the book indicates: the things which must shortly come to pass were signified to John.
It is important to be conscious of the fact that the millennium is happening right now because it reminds us that Jesus Christ is the one reigning over all. It reminds us that the devil is currently bound so that he cannot deceive the nations into uniting against Christianity in order to destroy the church. It reminds us that regardless of the outcome of the upcoming elections, even the President of the United States is under the rule of Jesus Christ. The millennium is not something off in the distant future, but to our great comfort, it is happening right now. Christ is reigning as King!